Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) wants the Senate to start committee work on bills addressing “major issues of the day” — and she’s asking Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to cancel next week’s recess to do it.
Snowe, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, sent a letter to Reid today asking him to keep the Senate in session in order to tackle significant legislation that are not likely to be addressed until after November’s election in the lame-duck session.
“There are a number of legislative issues, including tax extenders, the 2001 and 2003 tax provisions, the physician repayment rate, appropriations bills, the planned sequester, and another debt limit increase that the Senate will be confronting in the lame-duck session at the end of 2012,” Snowe wrote. “It will be essential that we are prepared for this session with thoroughly vetted, well thought out proposals that have been considered by the appropriate committees of the Senate.”
Congress in recent years has waited until the intervening period between the elections and a new session to address politically difficult bills. In the 2010 lame-duck session, Congress extended the Bush-era tax cuts, repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and attempted to approve the DREAM Act, which would give illegal immigrant children a path to citizenship.
Republican lawmakers especially have begun to push for swifter action on these big bills and are bracing to push energy issues now, even if they are unlikely to move on the floor. It is very unlikely leaders would agree to cancel recess, particularly in an election year, when lawmakers need time at home to campaign.
Snowe, however, would rather work on legislation back in Washington, D.C.
“We have sufficient time over the next months to consider the array of options rather than relegating these issues to the lame-duck session with last-minute, poorly thought out measures assembled by just a relative few,” Snowe continued. “By laying the groundwork now, the committees of jurisdiction can have a thorough, transparent, and accountable process in accordance with the traditions of the Senate. In that light, I urge you to forego the upcoming recess, and instead instruct the committees of jurisdiction to begin their work.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.